Conception and Contraception: Virgin Mary and Margaret Sanger

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

I.  Immaculate Conception

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  As defined by Pope Pius IX last December 8, 1854 in his encyclical,Ineffabilis Deus:

 “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Four years after, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous on March 25, 1858 and proclaimed her title:

“I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou”)

But two decades before this, on November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary already appeared to Catherine Soubirous instructing her to promote the devotion to the Miraculous Medal:

According to an account written by Catherine’s own hand, Mary was clothed in a robe of auroral light and her robe had a high neck and plain sleeves. According to Catherine’s notes, the medal should also have half a globe upon which Mary’s feet rest, hands raised up to her waist, fingers filled with diamond rings of different sizes giving off rays of light, and a frame slightly oval with golden letters saying, “O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” Her fingers each had three rings and the largest stones emitted the most brilliant rays. She added that some of the diamonds did not give off rays.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, was conceived without sin.

II. Margaret Sanger and Contraception

It is interesting how the modern world has turned this statement upside down by telling each woman around the world: “Mary, to conceive is to sin.”  In 1914, sixty years after the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus, Margaret Sanger wrote an 8-page monthly newsletter on contraception with the slogan, “No Gods, No Masters.”  In 1917, she published the monthly periodical, The Birth Control Review.  In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, with the following guiding principles:

“We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother’s conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.”

With the support of the Rockefeller family, Sanger created the Clinical Research Bureau, a birth control clinic, which later gave rise to the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952–a name which Sanger deplored because it is too euphemistic.  Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider in the US and is one of the major supporters of the Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines.

The guiding principles of the American Birth Control League has discriminated against babies that were not born in love or the mother’s conscious decision or were simply sickly

As part of her efforts to promote birth control, Sanger found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”[73] Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, which aims to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing reproduction by those considered unfit. Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, and compulsory segregation or sterilization for the profoundly retarded.[74][75] In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the “undeniably feeble-minded” from procreating.[76] Although Sanger supported negative eugenics, she asserted that eugenics alone was not sufficient, and that birth control was essential to achieve her goals

Notice the Darwinian undercurrents in Sanger’s pronouncements: “Survival of the fittest, removal of the unfit.”  But it will not be nature who will define who will be the fittest and the unfit; rather, it will be Margaret Sanger or the woman or Planned Parenthood or the State.  This is what Pope Paul VI prophesied in 1968 in his Encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

And true enough, Pres. Aquino has fulfilled this prophecy when he signed in December 21, 2012 the  Republic Act No. 10354, An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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